A woman has shared her heartbreak at being diagnosed with cancer just 11 months after losing her mother to the disease.
Jasmine Akram, a 26-year-old physiotherapist, was devastated to lose her mum Julie to ovarian cancer at the age of 63 in November 2022. While grieving, she was horrified to find a lump in her breast while in the shower.
Despite being “always active and on the go” with no health issues, a biopsy found that the lump was cancerous, and Jasmine was diagnosed with grade three invasive ductal carcinoma — a type of breast cancer — in September 2023.
“I was absolutely devastated,” Jasmine, who lives in Thornaby, UK, told NeedToKnow.co.uk. “The hard thing was I had just been through it with my mum and I knew what was to come. People make remarks like ‘at least you’re young’, but it doesn’t make it any easier. It’s emotional [and] so hard.
“I get constant flashbacks of my mum going through it which is heartbreaking.
“The day I was diagnosed I was making jokes, but I think that was my way of dealing with it [but] then the next morning it hit me and I was hysterically crying into my boyfriend Corey’s arms.”
Woman spots cancer on ultrasound
Jasmine’s experience with her mother’s battle gave her a unique insight when it came to her own treatment – even prior to the official diagnosis.
While at the breast clinic having ultrasounds and biopsies done, she spotted that things didn’t look right.
“I knew from looking at the ultrasound on my breast it was cancer due to the shape of it,” she said. “Following this, I needed to come in for a mammogram which showed the mass had grown from 22mm to 31mm, and they then needed me to have an MRI.”
A week later, she was officially diagnosed with cancer, and in November Jasmine underwent a single mastectomy, had three lymph nodes removed, and breast reconstructive surgery.
Throughout the Christmas period, she also underwent fertility preservation treatment with egg retrieval.
Last week, Jasmine will start chemotherapy for 18 weeks — after which time doctors plan to give her hormone medication so she goes into menopause. The latter is due to her cancer being estrogen-positive, meaning the hormone feeds the cancer.
As a preventative measure, Jasmine has also decided to have a mastectomy on her right breast. She is currently fundraising online with a GoFundMe page to help her take time off work to focus on her treatment and recovery.
Cancer doesn't compare to losing mum
Despite her hardships, she insists that none of it compares to the pain of losing her beloved mum.
“I’ve been through the hardest of losing my mum who was my absolute world, so this is nothing,” Jasmine said. “I think that’s how I’m managing to deal with what I’m not going through. Throughout it all I’ve said to myself ‘I’m not physically in control of this so if I can try and control my mind, it will help’ — which it has.
“But not having my mum here by my side has been the worst part. She was my absolute world, we were literally joint at the hip, I adored her and she adored me. But I am grateful for the love she gave me and the amazing memories.”
Raising awareness for breast cancer
Now, Jasmine is on a mission to raise awareness about the warning signs that something may be amiss, and says it is important to advocate for yourself if you know something is wrong.
When she was first getting checked after finding the lump in her breast, the 26-year-old said she didn’t meet the criteria to be referred to a specialist — but insisted that they do so.
“I can’t stop thinking that if someone else not as firm as myself, they would have listened to them and then they wouldn’t get referred,” she said. “I want to use my story to spread awareness of breast cancer and the importance of checking your breasts, and getting into the routine of doing these checks no matter what your age is.”
Jasmine also plans to start sharing her journey on social media. “To go through something like this at such a young age, I don’t want anyone else who is going through this to feel alone,” he said.
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